Separating Immigration Facts from Fiction

By Nikitha Rai, Senior Editor

 

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President Trump recently announced an executive order suspending refugees entering the U.S. for at least 120 days and immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia—predominantly Muslim countries—for the next 90 days. The ban has been widely condemned by world leaders and drawn protests around the country. The Muslim ban is anti-American and denies the positive spirit of American immigration. It unfairly criminalizes immigrants from these seven countries without evidence and bars Syrian refugees who have undergone the rigorous vetting process from entering the country.

The U.S. has seen immigration bans before—In 1882, President Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, preventing Chinese from entering the country for 10 years. During World War II, President Roosevelt argued that refugees were a security threat and turned away an ocean liner filled with Jewish passengers. Nearly a quarter of the 937 passengers on board are believed to have been killed in the Holocaust. These are just a few of the immigration bans we have had over the past 130 years, and they have all been considered mistakes. Each time afterwards, we have said “never again” and yet here we are in 2017.

President Trump claims that this executive order is about keeping our country safe. However, his ban would not have stopped the 9/11 hijackers, the San Bernardino shooters, the Fort Hood shooter, or the Boston marathon bombers. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute notes, “Foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015.” President Trump has defended his ban, stating that it is not a “Muslim ban” and yet, his measure provides an exemption for religious minorities and he has also extensively discussed Christian persecution in Syria. It provides no similar exemption for Muslim refugees fleeing their country, like the thousands of Syrians that are seeking shelter around the world.

The ban also perpetuates the false idea that immigrants do not help the U.S. Instead, immigrants contribute greatly to the country. In 2013, nearly 18% of business owners in the U.S. were foreign born, and immigrant entrepreneurs make up 28.5% of all new entrepreneurs in the country. In 2012, the Cato Institute concluded that immigrants boost productivity and income gains and that less educated native workers are more likely to gain on average from immigration. Low- and high-skilled immigrants help U.S. companies have a competitive advantage through their talents and help our country grow.

President Trump’s ban does not keep Americans safe from terrorist threats and does not protect American jobs. It instead promotes a xenophobic message that immigrants from these seven countries should be feared, unfairly criminalizing these citizens without any evidence. Refugees and citizens from the seven countries on the ban list deserve the right to come to the U.S. after undergoing the arduous immigration process. To oppose this policy is not only good for the country, but a moral obligation.

Like many Americans, I was horrified by the executive order. Not only because of the inhumane nature of it, but also because I understand intimately how much immigrants contribute to our country. In the past 30 years, my entire family has immigrated to the U.S. in hopes of achieving the American Dream. They have treated patients in need of critical care as doctors, created jobs in their communities as entrepreneurs, and helped create new technology as engineers. As a daughter, granddaughter, and niece of immigrants, I stand against President Trump’s senseless ban.